Robert Elmore (1913-1985) was an American composer, organist, pianist who was active in Philadelphia during the mid 20th century and who wrote some organ pieces that are included in recitals today. He was born on January 2, 1913 in Ramapuram, Chennai, India where his parents were missionaries. The family relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1918 where Elmore began studying piano at age 6 and organ at age 9. His first composition was written at age 11. In 1925 the family relocated once again to Wayne, Pennsylvania, where Elmore was to live until his death in 1985. Shortly thereafter he began study with famed organist and composer Pietro Yon who was then organist and music director at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Yon was sufficiently impressed with Elmore's abilities to have referred to him as "the foremost American organist of the day".
While still in his teens Elmore was appointed organist at the Central Baptist Church, Wayne, PA (1925-1933). He also performed as a theatre organist at the Lincoln, Bryn Mawr Seville and Anthony Wayne theaters. The influence of classical, church and theatre music merged with his natural virtuosity and a sense of the theatricality to create a uniquely personal compositional style.
In his day, Elmore was a key musical figure in the Philadelphia music scene as organist at Holy Trinity Rittenhouse Square, Central Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, organist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and as a celebrated organ virtuoso. He was also a dedicated teacher and mentor to many talented organ students who went on to become leading figures in the organ world.
The "Prelude on 'St. Agnes'" was published in 1966. It is an effective, original, and "mildly modern" setting, that, if creatively performed should be quite pleasing!
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Robert Elmore, and one of John B. Dykes (1823-1876), the composer of the well-known hymn-tune, "St. Agnes."